This came up recently in some comments on the SayNoTo1890 Facebook page:
Someone explain, where’s the gain? Do companies using 1890/1850 etc gain an income from the call?
I agree and it’s getting worse not better. These premium numbers have no reason to exist but to generate unfair charges
This was my response, explaining how these numbers came to cost as much as they do.
It’s probably worth noting that technically, these numbers are not premium rate numbers.
When original created years ago – prior to mobiles – using 1890 numbers as an example, the intention was to provide a low cost option for people to call national numbers, but at the cost of a local call.
So, on your landline, if it cost 5p a minute to call your neighbour in Mayo, but 15p a minute to call a business in Dublin, then the LoCall option was introduced to allow you dial a 1890 number for a business in Dublin, and pay the local rate – so, 5p per minute.
Effectively, the rule was, you charge for a call to an 1890 number the same as you would charge for a local call.
The problem, with the introduction of mobile phones, is that the cost of a local call, and a national call, are the same – i.e. they’re now calls to landlines, and are costed, normally, at 15c to 35c per minute or more.
However, in most cases, with minutes bundles as part of your mobile contract, no one really pays that amount to make calls as the minutes are deducted from your bundle.
The problem we’re all suffering is therefore twofold:
Firstly, those rates to call landlines then set the equivalency bar – so, a 35c per minute cost to call a landline on a mobile is then the benchmark for the 1890 call.
In this case, mobile phone service providers are actually following the rules of “LoCall” numbers exactly to the letter of the law.
Secondly, and more importantly, mobile phone service providers are NOT (mostly) deducting minutes on calls to 1890, 1850 or 0818 (and now 076 numbers as well) from your contracted minutes bundles.
Therefore, every call to those numbers on your mobile will cost you directly.
This, as you’ll be told by ComReg is a business decision by the mobile phone service providers. Or more relevantly, the provision of “free” minutes bundles is a business decision, so deciding what comes from it, or doesn’t, is also a business decision.
And ComReg will tell you that they won’t interfere in business decisions of the mobile phone service providers.
They won’t, but they could if they really wanted to, or if they were directed to by their government department, but such a direction isn’t ever likely.
Hope that clarifies a bit more.